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An open letter to Jeff Clarke, The Star Bar, Slim Chance, and other former Star Bar regulars:
There are three annual events I will dearly miss when I finally move out of Atlanta (Iím going away to Spain when I get my money saved. Gonna start tomorrow.) Drive Invasion, Cordogorama, and Bubbapalooza.
The Star Bar has hosted Bubba for some 15 years now. Over that time the bar has changed a bit. In the early 90ís it was the headquarters of The Redneck Underground, a simultaneous celebration and ironic satire of all things white trash, with a heck of a soundtrack. I stumbled onto this scene just after Bubbapaloozaís founder, Gregory Dean Smalley, had passed away. I saw the movementís prophet, Deacon Lunchbox, a single time for about 30 seconds a few weeks before a car crash took his life.
Soon after, The Star Bar became one of my frequent watering holes. I could tell I had just missed something extremely important, something that had a powerful, lingering presence. Eventually Iíd find Deaconís writings in a book and Gregory Deanís music on CD, but at the time I just enjoyed the place for what was happening then. The swing revival was at its height so the bar attracted more than itís hardcore regulars there to catch rockabilly acts from all over the world. A lot of folks like me got hooked on the place. There werenít many other venues where you could find twangy music of any sort in the capitol of the New South. I fondly remember my first Bubba, 1996, where I was shocked to learn I liked country music. The rootsy, honest sounds of Slim Chance were nothing like the pop country I had despised in my youth and groups like Blacktop Rockets would get half the crowd dancing and twirling like mad while the other half backed up to give them room. The place would be packed with sweaty people sucking down PBR and tapping their toes.
But the swing fad passed about the time The Star Bar changed hands. The new guys couldnít rely on the hardcore regulars to pay the bills. They had become increasingly irregular as they moved to the burbs, got married, had kids, etc., And without the steady flow of trend-surfing people whoíd just dropped in for the swing fad, things had to change.
The bar began booking acts that clashed with the retro ideals of the regulars Ė from the heavy, hard stuff to light, pop fluff. Bubbapalooza limped along a few years as the former regulars would return for one weekend but they werenít enough to pack the house like the years before. Even Bubba had to change.
This upset the regulars, both bands and fans. It didnít help that the new management could be a bit gruff. Some people got their feelings hurt. Some critics even insulted the bar and the owners in print. The bar responded with itís own insults and itís gotten to the point where I wonít read Stomp and Stammer any more and I have to tune out the snide remarks from Star Bar management about the situation. Both sides are being childish.
Címon, folks, rise above it.
So the bar had to change to stay afloat? Hey, find somewhere else with the music you like. Or better yet, expand your damn horizons and see something new. But whatever you do, donít bitch and moan about what the bar does to do to stay afloat. In the time the Star Bar has been around, the Point crashed,
9 Lives rose and fell, Echo Lounge came and went, even Undergroundís Alley Cat recently shut itís doors, but the Star Bar is still there so someone is doing something right.
Sure, it could be more to your liking Ė if you supported it more often.
Demand dictates supply and if youíre not there supporting the music you like why would they keep bringing it back? Itís like bitching about the government but not voting.
Yeah, the management has changed. I miss the old guy too. Yeah, the new guys can be assholes. I bet theyíd admit it freely. But Iíd like to see you stand behind that bar night after night and deal with other drunken assholes and not come away a bit jaded. More importantly, how often do you have to socialize with the management? Get in the door, order your drink, and move on to your own clique. Itís ok if there are people in the world you donít like Ė even if they run a bar you DO like.
And Jeff Clark - what the fuck?!? I can tell you pride yourself on being an asshole and giving harsh reviews but the more you call attention to the place the more you sound like a twat and the more Iím interested in going to the bar to see what has your panties in a wad. I have found that if you doní
t like something, I probably do, especially if you bother to call attention to it. Personal differences in taste aside, itís hypocritical at best to have a column called ďsupport our troopsĒ and run a magazine that supposedly supports the scene while simultaneously trying to tear down a portion of it.
Sure, Iíll give a band, a venue, or an event a harsh review when they deserve it but I wonít point them out and heckle them every opportunity I get. Stop being such a shit and MOVE ON, man.
The joint is one of the best bars in town Ė decent sound, cheap drinks, intimate size, a wide variety of live music, even a couple of DJ nights Ė something for everyone. I spent all evening there last night for the first night of Bubbapalooza 15. I saw some goddamn fantastic music Ė some old favorites, some new favorites Ė FIVE bands for TEN bucks. I drank five PBRís and my tab came to ten bucks. Tonight itís SEVEN bands for ten bucks.
Saturday itís eight bands and free barbecue for a mere fifteen bucks.
You can ask for a better show at a cheaper price Ė but you wonít get it.
Frederick Noble

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